Posted by: Jodi | September 3, 2014

What is your Culture?

Culture can be fascinating!  Image from http://all-free-downloads.com

Culture can be fascinating!
Image from http://all-free-downloads.com

(This is the post that was eaten by the goblins lurking within the system at WordPress last week.  Hopefully it reads as well as my first try because it was super awesome.)

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about culture is something that you grow in a petri dish, and I’m pretty sure that those microbes aren’t avid readers.  When it comes to your writing culture, we are talking about your audience. Understanding your audience and their interests and likes is a huge help when it comes time to attract attention among the screaming crowd.

A culture is defined as a group of people with similar beliefs and practices.  In broad terms a culture can include an entire country, such as U.S. culture.  Although the citizens of the United States are all very unique, they all share many things in common because they live in the same country.  In more narrow terms, a culture can be as specific as a fan group.  These are sometimes called subcultures.

People who adore Doctor Who are a subculture, they share many similarities.  They tend to be intellectual, the nature of the program requires reasoning skills beyond your basic sitcom. They also have a penchant for collecting memorabilia such as sonic screwdrivers and clever reincarnations of the TARDIS.  Chances are they also like other speculative fiction as well.

The people who you think would like your book are your culture.  If you are writing fantasy you want to first attract people who like to read fantasy.  This is a no brainer.  But, what does it mean?  It means that if you use a blog, or twitter, or Facebook, or any other social media to promote your work, you should post things that fantasy readers would be attracted to.

And this is where I’ve fallen short.  My poor blog meant to attract readers for my future books has not been tailored to attract readers of epic fantasy.  At most it has attracted readers from this blog and then a random smattering of people interested in various things such as Spongebob. This is not helpful to my goals.

I’ve failed to cater to my culture and this needs to change.  I made my first attempt at catering to my culture last Friday when I stated my intention of becoming a Doctor Who fan. It sounds like fun and there are tons of awesome people out there who love Doctor Who.  That post received more attention its first day than any other post I’ve written, except for when I accidentally attracted the Alfie Boe fan club with a post that compared him to my main character.  Although cool, that didn’t help me win fans either.

Over the next several weeks and months I hope to do more to attract my culture, that is readers of epic fantasy, over at my other blog.  This will include reviews of other epic fantasy books, fantasy movies, and yes, Doctor Who.  I can’t promise anything, but there might also be some fun cosplay in there as well.

What are you doing to attract your culture? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

***

The August Giveaway is over and a winner has been selected.  Everyone who liked or commented on posts during the month of August were entered in a drawing to receive a free critique of the first 20 pages of a current work in progress, or of their query letter.

The winner is:  OntyrePassages!  Congrats to you!  I sent you a PM on your FaceBook writer page with the details.

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Responses

  1. Like you, I know I could do better. A blogger must also be careful to not spend their time attracting other writers and no readers. I’ve seen many writers who fell into that trap. Sure, having other writers read your blog, and they’re great about leaving comments (that is, after all, what they do), but their interest in what you’re doing comes from a different place then those who are strictly readers. I try to talk about the influences that have made me the fantasy writer I am, and not just literary influences. It’s difficult to find fresh ways to blog about fantasy that people haven’t seen innumerable times, which is what makes it imperative to tie those posts to how they relate to the blogger.

    • Time is a huge issue and finding that balance where you can interact with other readers and writers and also get the important work done is vital. The age of blogging is starting to fade and most people don’t exactly go around blog hopping to find their next good read. In fact most don’t read blogs at all like they used to. Sadly, it’s still an industry norm for writers to maintain a blog or some other web presence. Here’s to keeping on keeping on!

  2. In some way you have rationalized your self into a mono-cultural corner, but diversity is what makes us grow as writers. I am not sure what my culture would be though I do like the idea of pondering that question and putting it into the vortex of a morning’s writing spree. And one does have to decide what frame of reference, by what rules do we write, and whom is our audience. I need to put thought there. And bravo that you are so clear on whom and what consist of your literary culture. Whereas, I am clueless. Though the word disenfranchised comes to mind. Those few whom have little chance of finding the means to express themselves. Or better yet people without talent who want to write anyway. I don’t know; the more I look, the more refracted becomes the light.

    • You make a good point. There is always the danger of over focusing on one narrow area and neglecting the rest simply because of personal preference. There is also the problem of letting the whims of the masses over dictate what should be written. Write what you love first. Worry about all the rest when I comes time to publish.

      • Yes and no. Your point is a good one because we have to know our audience, for whom do we write.
        But like another blogger point out us bloggers are mostly read by other bloggers.
        And most of us have a novel we keep stuffed in a drawer we pull out on occasion to edit and to write.
        I just read this from the new york times, think you will find it of interest: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/08/16/finding-my-voice-in-fantasy/?_php=true&_type=blogs&module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar%2C{%222%22%3A%22RI%3A17%22}&_r=0

        • Fascinating article, thanks for sharing it. He sums up precisely why I like writing fantasy as opposed to mainstream fiction.

  3. Good post. I am a sucker for one that mentions Doctor Who, Star Trek, and the like, so you can easily hook this reader in.

    The funny thing about blogging: I started my blog to promote my writing, which is speculative leaning toward Twilight Zonish (more psychological than hard sci-fi). That’s why I chose (and recently updated) a theme that conveys that image. However, my readers are pretty much other bloggers. As far as I can tell, maybe 2 or 3 identify as speculative fiction readers. So blogging is more about networking than building up a “fanbase,” apparently. I suppose when I actually have something to promote, that could change.

    • I feel like I have the same problem. Most readers are other bloggers. However, I feel maintain my blogs has been worth it. I’ve learned how to write and press the publish button and get over the fear I used to have that everything I put up would be judged harshly and one day someone would finally expose as a fraud. It’s taken years to convince myself that I can actually do this whole writing thing.


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